Scientist and Research Engineering Appointments at NCAR
The following statement is intended to record NCAR’s policy and procedures with respect to academic freedom, responsibilities, and appointment policies for individuals on the scientist and research engineer appointment ladders (collectively referred to as scientists herein). It is modeled after the academic policies of UCAR member universities for the purpose of attracting and retaining a high-quality research staff, ensuring and protecting the academic freedom of the staff, and promoting mobility between NCAR scientist and academic faculty positions. This statement refers to the rights and responsibilities that apply to scientists in the organization, and in particular to protection from reduction of salary or termination of employment, and from imposition of serious sanctions, except upon grounds and in accordance with UCAR policies and procedures already in place as well as additional procedures related to this policy.
During the development of the Workforce Management Plan and in discussions with the UCAR Board of Trustees, there was extensive debate about the notion of “tenure” for NCAR ladder-track scientists and research engineers. There was considerable sentiment among NCAR scientists and engineers in favor of a more formal tenure policy, similar to that in many UCAR universities. In contrast, the trustees supported the recommendations involving appointment and possible termination of ladder-track scientists and research engineers, but noted that the formal use of the word “tenure” creates unnecessary confusion between the mission of a university and that of NCAR. The trustees did not support the development of a formal tenure policy at NCAR. In practice, the UCAR policies for appointment and termination of these classes of employees are similar to the policies for tenured faculty at many universities; hence the UCAR-NCAR policies in this area are often referred to as “tenure like.”
I. ACADEMIC FREEDOM
Excellence in research depends upon an uninhibited search for truth and its open expression. Hence, it is essential that each scientist be free to pursue scholarly inquiry and to voice and publish individual conclusions concerning the significance of evidence that the researcher considers relevant. Each scientist must be free from the corrosive fear that others, inside or outside the organization, because of biases, differing opinions, or other inappropriate factors, may threaten that individual’s job security or professional career. When speaking, writing, or acting as a member of the broader community, a scientist must be free from institutional censorship or discipline, subject to academic responsibility. In such instances, the scientist should clearly state that he or she is not speaking for the institution.
A scientist’s comments are protected even though they may be highly critical in tone or content, or erroneous, but such statements are not protected if they either substantially impede the individual’s performance of daily duties or materially and substantially interfere with the regular operation of the institution. False statements made with knowledge of their falsity or in reckless disregard of the truth are not protected, nor are public statements without foundation that call into question the fitness of the scientist to perform his or her professional duties.
II. ACADEMIC RESPONSIBILITY
The concept of academic freedom for scientists must be accompanied by an equally rigorous concept of academic responsibility. Scientists have a responsibility to the institution, their profession, and society at large. The rights and privileges of scientists defined through written policies and procedures require the assumption of certain reciprocal responsibilities. Fundamental is the responsibility of scientists to maintain scientific excellence as described in the ARG criteria (http://www.ncar.ucar.edu/central/arg/docs/criteria.pdf), including the exhibition of professional leadership and productivity through publications, lectures, contributions to NCAR programs as well as national and international programs, participation in professional organizations and meetings, and community service.
III. LADDER SCIENTIST AND RESEARCH ENGINEER APPOINTMENTS
The policies for appointment of scientific staff to the positions Scientist I-IV and Research Engineer I-IV are described in the NCAR Scientific and Research Engineering Appointments Policy 6-5. Scientist III-IV and Research Engineer III-IV positions are appointments without term and are therefore subject to different standards for termination. The promotion from level II to level III is an “up or out” decision and is subject to time constraints as outlined in NCAR Policy 6-5. The process for appointments to Level III and Level IV positions is:
Review and recommendation to the NCAR director by the Appointments Review Group, NCAR director approval and recommendation to the UCAR Board of Trustees, and Authorization by the UCAR Board of Trustees.
3.1 Termination for Unsatisfactory Performance or Misconduct
Other than for financial exigencies and reductions of programs as described below, a Scientist or Research Engineer III or IV may be suspended or discharged from employment only for violations of UCAR policies, including, but not limited to, reasons of incompetence, neglect of duty, sustained unsatisfactory performance, mistreatment of other employees, research misconduct, financial fraud, criminal or other illegal or unethical conduct, or misconduct of such a nature as to indicate that the individual is unfit to continue as a member of the scientific and engineering staff (hereinafter “for cause”).
The post-ARG review is the process by which the NCAR director obtains the advice and recommendations of peers regarding the performance of Scientist or Research Engineer III or IV. Therefore, the decision to terminate a person in these positions due to unsatisfactory performance shall be made by the NCAR director after considering the evaluations, recommendations, and outcomes from the post-ARG review, which will be conducted every five years for individuals in these positions. The NCAR director may also solicit an interim post-ARG review, triggered by unsatisfactory evaluations in a scientist’s annual performance reviews or regularly scheduled post-ARG review.
If termination for cause is deemed warranted, the NCAR director must request and receive the approval of the UCAR president prior to taking any action. The Board of Trustees shall be provided with a full assessment of all procedures followed, including the post-ARG process, if applicable, as well as the recommendation of the NCAR director. In a termination for cause, all other UCAR policies and procedures will apply and be followed, including, but not limited to, the Research Misconduct Policy and Procedures 2-5 and those applying to discipline and problem resolution. Following an approval by the Board of Trustees, the NCAR Director shall inform the individual in writing of the decision to discharge the individual.
3.2 Termination for Financial Exigency or Reduction of Programs
The employment of a Scientist or Research Engineer III or IV may be terminated because of: (1) a demonstrable, bona fide institutional financial exigency; or (2) the significant curtailment or elimination of a program within the institution. Financial exigency is defined as a change in the financial resources of the institution that compels a significant reduction in the institution's current operations budget. The determination of whether a bona fide condition of financial exigency exists or whether there shall be a significant curtailment or elimination of a major program shall be made by the NCAR director after consulting with the UCAR president and NCAR Executive Committee, and with approval of the UCAR Board of Trustees. In this or any subsequent consultation process, a Scientist or Research Engineer III or IV appointment may be terminated only after it is determined by the director, following careful review of alternatives, that the condition of financial exigency cannot otherwise be alleviated without more serious damage to the institution.
If there is a termination of a Scientist or Research Engineer III or IV, the NCAR director shall give consideration to quality and productivity of research and relevance to the priorities of the institution and other relevant factors. The primary consideration, however, shall be the maintenance of a sound and balanced research program that is consistent with the functions and priorities of the institution.
In the event of a financial exigency, the NCAR director shall seek the specific recommendations for solving financial exigencies or program reductions from laboratory and division directors, the NCAR Executive Committee, and the President’s Council. The NCAR director shall assess all recommendations prior to submitting a documented recommendation for termination to the Board of Trustees. If the termination of a Scientist or Research Engineer III or IV is approved by the Board of Trustees, the individual whose employment is terminated because of financial exigency or reduction of programs shall be notified of this fact in writing, and is normally given one year’s notice, consistent with UCAR Policy 6-5. This notice shall include a statement of the conditions requiring termination and a general description of the procedures followed in making the decision. For a period of 12 months after the effective date of termination, the institution shall not fill a new a Scientist or Research Engineer III or IV position in the same field of specialization without first offering the position to the person whose employment was terminated.